Porn in US 'a public health crisis'

by Robert Macpherson

Pornography now is so widespread in the United States that it deserves to be addressed seriously as a major public health crisis, a panel of activists said Thursday.

On the eve of a two-day conference on , they suggested that be tackled in the same manner as teenage smoking or drunk driving.

"There's an untreated pandemic of harm from pornography," said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, which has campaigned against pornography since 1962.

"There's a lot of science now proving that pornography is harmful," Hawkins told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington. "We know now that almost every family in America has been touched by the harm of pornography."

The Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation summit that opens Friday in the Washington suburb of Tysons Corner aims to look at pornography as a complex social problem that needs to be framed as a public health issue.

Participants include , social workers, academics, feminists, faith leaders, campaigners against human trafficking and former members of the multibillion-dollar adult entertainment industry.

'Considerable political clout'

"This is a business with considerable political clout," said Gail Dines, a sociology and women's studies professor at Wheelock College in Boston and author of "Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality."

Porn sites get more visitors per month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined, a third of all downloads contain porn and the Internet now hosts 4.2 million porn websites, said Dines, who is also president of the international feminist group Stop Porn Culture.

"Porn is without doubt the most powerful form of sex education today, with studies showing that the average age of first viewing porn is between 11 and 14—and let me tell you, this is not your father's Playboy," she said.

"These degrading misogynist images have become the wallpaper of our lives and they are robbing young people of an authentic healthy sexuality that is a basic right of ever human being."

Donny Pauling, a former adult film producer for Playboy and others who also ran a network of adult websites before quitting the business in 2006, said he has personally seen the ill effects of the porn business on the women who appear in front of the camera.

Doubts porn star is 'empowered'

He doubted that Miriam Weeks—a 19-year-old women's studies student at elite Duke University who caused a national stir recently when she came out as moonlighting Internet porn star Belle Knox—feels as "empowered" as she has claimed.

"I don't buy her story," Pauling said. "I recruited more than 500 first-timers into the business and there's never been one that came back and thanked me."

Mary Anne Layden of the University of Pennsylvania, who specializes in sexual trauma, said pornography has been a factor in every case of sexual violence that she has treated as a psychotherapist.

"The earlier males are exposed to pornography, the more likely they are to engage in non-consensual sex—and for females, the more pornography they use, the more likely they are to be victims of non-consensual sex," she said.

In an interview with Rolling Stone earlier this month, Weeks revealed that she started watching at the age of 12—and that she was once raped at a high school house party.

"There is going to have to be programs out there that get kids to understand how porn is manipulating them," Dines said.

And Layden suggested that if the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention got "interested in this as a issue, we can have success in the way that we had success with the issue of cigarette smoking."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Could Porn Be Good For Society?

Mar 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The arguments against pornography are many, ranging from insistence that porn degrades women and is morally reprehensible to the assertion that pornography viewing is the cause of sex crimes. ...

No such thing as porn 'addiction,' researchers say

Feb 12, 2014

Journalists and psychologists are quick to describe someone as being a porn "addict," yet there's no strong scientific research that shows such addictions actually exists. Slapping such labels onto the habit ...

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

Oct 24, 2014

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

Oct 24, 2014

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

Hand blenders used for cooking can emit persistent chemicals

Oct 24, 2014

Eight out of twelve tested models of hand blenders are leaking chlorinated paraffins when used according to the suppliers' instructions. This is revealed in a report from Stockholm University where researchers analyzed a ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ab3a
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2014
I sympathize with their dilemma, but --no. Until someone defines precisely what constitutes "pornography" I think this whole effort is pointless activist babble masquerading as a medical issue.

The problem is that they haven't defined what pornography in an manner that separates it from other legitimate endeavors such as art, medical journals, or even the Bible itself. Thus, anything they don't like can be suppressed.
krundoloss
4 / 5 (1) May 16, 2014
I think the only real danger is when a person is not mature enough to know that porn and sex are generally not the same thing at all. There is, of course, people like me to enjoy seeing the infinite variety of the female form, almost appreciated as art more so than just a piece of meat to be used up and tossed away. Porn is an act, it is meant to play on fantasies and desires, and is not the same as real sex. If someone is not mature enough to know that, then their ideas about sex can become distorted. But it does seem that reality will set in and repair this distorted view, doing little damage in the long run. Other than setting incorrect expectations, I dont see how porn could be all that damaging in the long run.....
DirtySquirties
5 / 5 (3) May 16, 2014
Every problem this article skims over (with anecdotal evidence and supposed correlations) isn't caused by porn, it's how society handles sex.

Teens use porn because parents are too scared to properly teach them and schools can't teach it properly because a handful of parents would flip out. Also, teens don't want to admit to their friends that they are clueless. Where else are they supposed to turn to? No one wants to be inadequate in bed and have the stigma that goes along with it, so teens turn to the internet to avoid fumbling around like fools the first time like most people (used to) do.

The real problem is society's lack of openness when it comes to sex and the fact that adults are leaving teens to figure it out on their own.
RobertKarlStonjek
4.2 / 5 (5) May 16, 2014
Here is the scientific evidence:
In every country where restrictions on pornography have decreased, sexual assault has DECREASED.
In every country where restrictions on pornography have increased, sexual assault has INCREASED.

These studies apply to 'soft porn' ie nakedness and consentual sexual acts.

The best outcome possible is freedom of consenting adults to display their sexuality to those wanting to see it but restricting material that relates to acts that are illegal.

The countries with the highest prevalence of sexual assault against women also have the highest restriction on porn eg it is unsafe for women to leave their home unaccompanied in Pakistan, a country that has complete restriction on all forms of pornography, nudity, semi nudity and even exposure in swimwear.
Vietvet
1.5 / 5 (4) May 17, 2014
@RobertKarlStonjek

"Here is the scientiific evidence:"

No, that is a statement, not scientific evidence. Citations needed.
Sinister1812
not rated yet May 17, 2014
Other than setting incorrect expectations, I dont see how porn could be all that damaging in the long run.....


I agree, but it might be physically, if you worked in the industry. lol
Bookbinder
5 / 5 (3) May 17, 2014
Preposterous.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) May 18, 2014
"science now proving that pornography is harmful"

-Science has also proved that unrestricted population growth is also harmful. This is why many forms of non-procreative sex, and abortion, were legalized after ww2. Western countries were full. There was no longer a need to colonize backward regions or grow large armies to fight foreign wars.

And so sex went from being the sacred and honored way of procreating, to a form of entertainment, communication, or athletic event. Further, Hugh Hefner also designated what the proper object of our desires was supposed to be: over-endowed, over-used, and over 18.

Jerry lee Lewis would still be in jail for marrying his 13yo cousin, if he had done so only 10 years later. Adolescence, traditionally the most fertile time in a women's life, would now be reserved for the thorough inculcation into this new culture. They would instead leave their incipient culture, go to college, get a career, and not bear their first child until age 30.
richardwenzel987
5 / 5 (1) May 18, 2014
In my experience, "authentic, healthy, sex" is a myth. I don't even think blue-nosed prudes can approach that ideal. The human brain is perverse and convoluted in all of its works and inventions. Why do some people want human sexual activity to be a crashing bore?
ShotmanMaslo
4.5 / 5 (2) May 19, 2014
Sounds like a bunch of nonsense, spreading mostly by "activists" and "feminists" with an agenda, not by actual intellectual authorities. If anything, rates of teen pregnancy, rape, STDs are decreasing over last decade or two.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1.7 / 5 (3) May 19, 2014
sexual activity to be a crashing bore
Sex is the mechanism of reproduction. It is so compelling because reproducing is the most important thing we can do. And as tropical animals who evolved in an environment with high attrition rates, we are constantly compelled to reproduce.

But the satisfaction from sex comes when partners perceive that it is a success; that fertilization has taken place. Couples who are having sex and not making a baby will sense that something is wrong, that they are wasting resources which could be better expended elsewhere. And so both will begin looking for new partners.

The problem is how to satisfy the sex drive without making babies. The answer is deception. You convince them it is something other than what it is, and you put a great deal of effort into doing this. You convince people to waste time with perversions, and you offer them drugs and alcohol to stupify them, and you make divorce easy. And they think tomorrow they will be satisfied.
richardwenzel987
5 / 5 (2) May 19, 2014
Why do married couples with children, sometimes lots of children, divorce? Was reproduction not satisfying? Actually, sex is great with no thought of reproduction. Sex is probably best when one can indulge and not worry about making a baby. Breeding should always be a matter of choice. And I see nothing wrong with "perversion". What is perversion anyway? Our wonderful brains and our creative imaginations allow us to step outside the narrow paths of instinct.
Scottingham
5 / 5 (2) May 19, 2014
tl:dr

Bullshit moralism masquerading as science.
theepicurean
4.5 / 5 (2) May 19, 2014
I am disappointed by the publication of this article on your site. Is this one of those advertisements posing as news? If it is, then please provide adequate notice to your readers. If not, then you should have conducted more due diligence about the conference, its coordinators, sponsors, supporters, and participants. I did. It is clear that the conference has strong connections to religion, religious institutions, as well as notable "conservative" groups, such as The Family Research Council. The inclusion of anti-porn feminists does not make the conference any less focused on Christian morality. Without appropriate disclosures, the author appears ignorant, incompetent, naive, or unscrupulous - or any combination thereof. These sorts of articles are a great disservice to your readers. I hope you will either amend the article to include the necessary disclosures or, preferably, delete it from your site permanently.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 20, 2014
Why do married couples with children, sometimes lots of children, divorce?
Your biology has a mind of its own. It wants to reproduce. If it is not reproducing where it is then it will want to look elsewhere.

The older a woman gets the more dangerous bearing children can be. She senses this and will begin to avoid the chance of getting pregnant. Let's be clear - she doesn't decide this, her body does. A man with a history of successful reproduction will of course continue to desire to bear children. His mind may be wholly unaware of this desire until opportunity presents itself.

Sex without conception will become more bizarre and unnatural over time as people seek to elicit the same thrill they get when the potential to conceive is real. Guaranteed.

As for gaydom, this may be an evolved way of limiting pop growth by epigenetic neutering in the womb. Mothers may want to limit competition for their firstborn.

'We don't have a body - we ARE a body.' - hitchens
Dug
not rated yet May 29, 2014
Note the number and increased frequency of porn related research in "More news stories" herein. Clearly some conservative morals group is waving grant money at researchers again. No real good (or science) comes from a "solution" seeking a "problem" to justify it's existence - especially when related to other peoples morals.